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New BlackBerry Interim CEO Now Cleaning House

At the beginning of the month, BlackBerry Limited announced that it had entered into an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited and other unnamed investors to invest in the struggling smartphone company. At closing, John S. Chen was appointed as Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors, and as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO Thorsten Heins resigned both from his position, and gave up his seat on the Board.

"I am pleased to join a company with as much potential as BlackBerry," said Chen. "BlackBerry is an iconic brand with enormous potential – but it’s going to take time, discipline and tough decisions to reclaim our success.  I look forward to leading BlackBerry in its turnaround and business model transformation for the benefit of all of its constituencies, including its customers, shareholders and employees."

Now just twenty days later, several key people from the Heins era have been ejected from the company: Kristian Tear, the company's Chief Operating Officer, and Frank Boulben, the company's Chief Marketing Officer. Brian Bidulka will be replaced by James Yersh as its Chief Financial Officer, but will stay on as a special advisor to the CEO for the remainder of the fiscal year to assist with the transition.

"I thank Kristian and Frank for their efforts on behalf of BlackBerry. I look forward to working more directly with the talented teams of engineers, and the sales and marketing teams around the world to facilitate the BlackBerry turn-around and to drive innovation," said Executive Chair and CEO  Chen.

BlackBerry’s press release stated on Monday that James Yersh has more than 15 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industries. Previously he served as the Senior Vice President, Controller and head of Compliance for BlackBerry. Prior to joining BlackBerry in 2008, he held various senior positions at Cognos Incorporated and Deloitte.

"I also thank Brian for his eight years of dedicated service to BlackBerry. I look forward to working with James and his Finance team as we move forward, execute on our plans and deliver long-term value for our shareholders,” Chen added.

If that isn’t enough of a management shakeup, Roger Martin, a Board member since 2007, has also resigned. "Our Board has benefited from Roger's expertise and insights over the past six years and we wish him the best," said Barbara Stymiest, Board Member and Former Chair of the Board.

Formerly known as RIM, BlackBerry Limited began to fall from fame as Apple’s iPhone took the spotlight. Like many other companies, BlackBerry was sluggish to respond, and so far the company’s attempt to recapture the market share it formerly owned has failed. Just recently the company booked nearly a billion dollars in losses related to unsold phones.

BGC analyst Colin Gillis recently told the Associated Press that the search for a new CEO seems like a farce, and that the company should just elect Chen as the CEO given the decisions he’s currently making. The decision to elect hiim as CEO is expected to be made on December 20 when BlackBerry reports its third quarter earnings.

"You let whoever is going to be the CEO makes those decisions. It kind of bothers me because it just seems like the search process is a farce. I mean the guy has a more than an $80 million pay package. He's blown out every other top manager. That's not your decision to make as interim CEO," Gillis said.

  • Innocent_Bystander-1312890
    Que the Terran marine: "about damn time"...

    IB
    Reply
  • Stevemeister
    So a new guy comes in - gets rid of the old guard, will then bring in a lot of old friends and cronies at high salaries and with outrageously generous golden parachutes that will make their departure in two years time (after failing to resurrect the company) more lucrative for them as individuals than actually helping the company succeed. . . . . . or am I just being cynical . . . . after all what did the last crew actually manage to achieve.
    Reply
  • nadavp3
    Time to replace the operating system of the phone to either Android, Windows Phone or iOS (never say never), sure, they will lose there uniqueness (they can still make a launcher, right?) and maybe this is for the best...
    Reply
  • cepheid
    Wow, Nadavp3, you obviously don't know anything about the OS. Much better designed than both iOS7 and Android. Perhaps start learning about keyboards, then move up to computers and software.
    Reply
  • nadavp3
    12036171 said:
    Wow, Nadavp3, you obviously don't know anything about the OS. Much better designed than both iOS7 and Android. Perhaps start learning about keyboards, then move up to computers and software.

    Yet it doesn't sell, don't you get it? it being or not being better is not the issue.

    The issue is that people don't buy the phones that this company is making.

    My previous post's point was: perhaps with a different OS people will want the phones as specification wise there's nothing wrong with them (they support the latest phone networks and have a respectable amount of Ram, Mhz and storage space)

    Android is open source, maybe they could use whatever millions of dollars they have left to create a branch of android that have the features of the blackbarry operating system.

    Or maybe they could stop dumping money on user experience (that they worked so hard on for so many years) as it clearly doesn't pay off and simply tag along the rest of the manufacturers and become yet another android seller (as if we need any more... but it sure beats death, don't you think? + they could also try gain an advantage over the competition by claiming superior quality of products )

    This way the average joe will not be afraid to be on an OS no one else have (no one else that he knows, clearly some people still use it)

    Edit: oh and I happen to know a thing or two about keyboards, I have a Filco mechanical keyboard with cherry mx brown switches, and its UK layout for that extra big enter key.

    + Now go watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efqytocE1Qw
    Reply
  • schultzter
    Really, it's not about the OS any more. iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Tizen, Sailfish, Ubuntu, etc. It's the apps that matter - not just on the phone but at the backend too. Blackberry is not going to return their former glory by competing based on their OS.
    Reply
  • elgranchuchu
    12036442 said:
    12036171 said:
    Wow, Nadavp3, you obviously don't know anything about the OS. Much better designed than both iOS7 and Android. Perhaps start learning about keyboards, then move up to computers and software.

    Yet it doesn't sell, don't you get it? it being or not being better is not the issue.

    The issue is that people don't buy the phones that this company is making.

    My previous post's point was: perhaps with a different OS people will want the phones as specification wise there's nothing wrong with them (they support the latest phone networks and have a respectable amount of Ram, Mhz and storage space)

    Android is open source, maybe they could use whatever millions of dollars they have left to create a branch of android that have the features of the blackbarry operating system.

    Or maybe they could stop dumping money on user experience (that they worked so hard on for so many years) as it clearly doesn't pay off and simply tag along the rest of the manufacturers and become yet another android seller (as if we need any more... but it sure beats death, don't you think? + they could also try gain an advantage over the competition by claiming superior quality of products )

    This way the average joe will not be afraid to be on an OS no one else have (no one else that he knows, clearly some people still use it)

    Edit: oh and I happen to know a thing or two about keyboards, I have a Filco mechanical keyboard with cherry mx brown switches, and its UK layout for that extra big enter key.

    + Now go watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efqytocE1Qw

    It's just this:

    Blackberry it's not for kids, it's not for play, it's a bussines phone, for bussiness people!
    Reply
  • schnitter
    This has been done several times before. New CEO, fire people, FAIL, and the cycle begins again.

    Just give it up RIM/BB/WhateverFailNameIsNext
    Reply
  • timaahhh
    Gotta love a hatchet man
    Reply
  • nadavp3
    12036703 said:
    It's just this:

    Blackberry it's not for kids, it's not for play, it's a business phone, for business people!

    OK, I was just under the impression that everybody wanted to be the #1 seller, or to have a double digit market share, if a company was able to make a phone that would appeal to all business man and women out there to the point companies will stop the "bring your own device" policy and revert to a "You can only use this" redistricted policy due to sheer amount of advantages that this phone had then I would be agreeing with you.

    I think its not "a phone for business people", its a phone for sale, and whatever can sells more of it - the better.

    In my opinion trying to cutter to a specific audience, while awesome in theory, could play out as catastrophic mistake should it .. not work.

    case in point: the company that I work for have phone deals for employs, yet non of which features BB, why is that? Additionally, no one that works in my office\floor\that I have seen in the cafeteria got BB phone, why is that?

    In other words: they need to figure out:
    1) what makes the customer really want to buy X phone
    2) what makes the customer refuse a buying Y phone
    and then act accordingly

    I still think that my above solution stands: port apps to android, make them all work under a rom specific framework that only operates on RIM's official android roms (similar to touchwize only working for Samsung roms and htcsense only working for HTC roms) and appeal to a bigger mass.
    it could still have business features and use that angle to attract attention.

    Or are you perhaps saying that they, upfront, don't want to sell their products to non-business people? And that business people don't want android\ios\wp for business usage (and much rather use both a BB and a Android\iOS\WP for this two functions)
    Reply